“We develop and manufacture robots and manual, semi-automatic and automatic machines used for curing cheeses. In addition, we offer various machinery for washing cheese boards and lifting cheeses, as well as palletizing and traying robots,” points out CEO Alain Sugnaux, who runs the company together with his brother.
It was their father Michel Sugnaux who started a workshop for general electromechanics and car repair back in 1962. “By coincidence, my father met a friend who was working in a cheese dairy. They were looking for a mechanical solution to turn their Raclette cheeses. My father developed a prototype, which became an instant success and earned him orders even from French cheese manufacturers.”
Against the backdrop of growing demand for customized cheese curing machines, the electromechanical work gradually decreased, and today Sugnaux focuses exclusively on machinery for the food sector. “Gruyère comes in large loaves which have to be handled. Here, our manual, semi-automatic and automatic machines for curing and turning and cheese-board washing are very convenient,” says Mr. Sugnaux. “In Switzerland, we love fondue. The special fondue cheese has to be derinded and grated, so we have built a special machine for this process.”
Machines from Sugnaux provide a strategic competitive advantage, as they increase manufacturing performance. Among the main customers are manufacturers specializing in the curing process, but there are still small cheese dairies that take on the curing process themselves and require special machinery.
One of the company’s best-sellers is the curing robot G41, designed for curing, salting and handling hard and semi-hard cheeses. It can be used in small cellars and at small sites. Then there is the FR6/9, a semi-automatic cheese curing machine for the same operations, as well as the MP2 for washing cheese boards.
“As our machines are all modularly designed, it is easy to transform a semi-automatic machine into an automatic robot,” says Mr. Sugnaux. “It is our prime objective to work on simplifying even the most complex processes. This focus is helping to boost our international expansion.”
Right now, Sugnaux exports about 60% of its products outside Switzerland, mostly to France, Austria and Germany, as well as to several countries in Central Europe and North America. With complex yet easily operable new solutions, the demand from abroad will definitely continue to grow.